Edward Brongersma, 1911 – 1998
On the 22 April 1998, Dutch academic and politician Edward Brongersma died through voluntary euthanasia.
Brongersma, who was a doctor of law and member of parliament, spent 11 months in prison in the 1950s for having had sexual relations with a 17-year-old man at a time when the age of consent for male sexual relations was 21 in the Netherlands. He devoted his life to research in male sexuality and published a number of important works on that subject, most notably Loving Boys. But after an initial liberalization of sexual mores, times changed again and society grew hostile toward Brongersma’s liberal view on sex, which was based in science. The doctor found himself out in the cold, which was probably partly why he chose to end his life.
Brongersma had built a huge archive of scientific writings on the subject of mainly male sexuality. Except for academic works, it also included unique writings from the everyday lives of friends and acquaintances he had got to know over the years. After his death, the archive was raided by the police and the board members argued about whether they would destroy the archive or not, since it might include information illegal to possess or view according to Dutch law. It also provided evidence of past sexual relations:
“After examining the writings and photographs, prosecutors announced they had identified hundreds of men who had been involved – mostly years ago – in homosexual relationships with boys, and that they had evidence to launch some 40 prosecutions.”
- Burning the Library – Dutch government destroys gay archive, vows mass arrests (The Guide, February 2001)
This is the first post in the category Calendar, which will include historical dates and events relevant to the Destroyer reader.